Worst players at every position from Week 16

Johnny Manziel and Martavis Bryant highlight Bryson Vesnaver's Worst Team of the Week roster.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Frank Victores)

(AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Worst players at every position from Week 16

The season is coming to a close, and we’ve seen some real good performances by a lot of great players. But we’ve also seen some really poor ones. People try to ignore those because nobody wants to glorify struggling players. But we’re here to let you know who played the worst at their position each and every week. This is the PFF Worst Team of the Week.

(Editor’s note: Changes might be made following our review process and once Monday Night Football games have been analyzed and graded.)

Quarterback: Johnny Manziel, Browns (-5.5)

Manziel was good when he scrambled yesterday, but was bad when asked to actually throw the football. His -9.8 pass grade is one of the worst we’ve ever recorded. When the Chiefs didn’t blitz and Manziel was forced to throw into coverage, he completed just 39 percent of his passes and averaged a mere 4.4 yards per attempt. He also threw a terrible interception and had two more bad passes that should have been intercepted. He looked uncomfortable all game long, and yesterday was not a good day for those who believe he’s made any significant development as a quarterback.

Running back: Kenjon Barner, Eagles (-2.4)

This comes solely from his poor receiving play. Barner was targeted three times — he caught one of them, which lost seven yards. He personally lost two of them by running backwards instead of forwards. The other two targets he saw? He dropped both of them.

Fullback: Will Tukuafu, Seahawks (-3.4)

Tukuafu was ineffective in his run blocking, finishing with a -1.8 grade in that regard. But he also had one carry, which he fumbled on. That’s what really got him on this list.

Tight end: Zach Ertz, Eagles (-2.4)

Statistically Ertz was a monster on Saturday night, catching 13-of-17 for 122 yards. But of those yards, he gained only 44 after the catch. He forced just one missed tackle despite all those receptions. Of those four incompletions, two of them were poor drops. And finally, he fumbled the ball. Not a great day for Ertz despite the strong numbers.

Wide receivers: Josh Huff, Eagles (-2.1) and Martavis Bryant, Steelers (-1.9)

These two finished with the worst receiving grades among all receivers this week, more because of how invisible they were. Huff played 44 snaps and was targeted just twice. He caught one for eight yards and dropped the other. Bryant played even more snaps (52) and saw three targets. He caught one of them (a screen pass) for six yards. But he dropped the other two. It was a day to forget for both of these players.

Tackles: Brent Giacomini, Jets (-5.9) and Ereck Flowers, Giants (-4.8)

Giacomini struggled pass blocking, allowing a sack, a hit and three hurries. But it was the multiple run stops and even more disruptive plays that he allowed in the run game that led to his place on this list. Flowers is here mostly due to his poor pass blocking (-4.4 grade, lowest among all tackles) thanks to the two hits and four hurries he allowed.

Guards: Matt Tobin, Eagles (-10.0) and Xavier Su’a-Filo, Texans (-4.2)

Tobin was actually not bad in his run blocking, finishing right around average. But when you allow a sack (nullified via facemask penalty) two hits and nine hurries, and are beaten three other times en route to a -8.8 pass block grade, you’re going to make this team. Su’a-Filo was much more effective, but still not effective. He allowed three hurries in the passing game, and struggled to open any holes to run through, finishing with a -2.8 run block grade on the day.

Center: Mike Person, Falcons (-5.6)

Person allowed just one hurry when pass blocking. But in the run game he struggled, finishing with a -4.3 grade thanks to the multiple run stops allowed. He also false started twice and took a holding penalty.

Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).

Defensive interior – ends: Xavier Cooper, Browns (-3.4) and Cameron Heyward, Steelers (-3.3)

Cooper played limited snaps, but still ended up with a -3.2 run defense grade. He was constantly blocked out of plays, and finished with just one run stop. Heyward was a little better in the run game, often being unable to get off blocks, but still finishing with five run stops. But he failed to record a single pressure in the pass rush game, finishing with a position-low -2.6 grade there.

Defensive interior – tackle: Montori Hughes, Giants (-4.6)

Hughes was invisible in his game, as he failed to record a pressure, a stop or even a tackle. He didn’t even miss a tackle. He was blocked out of every single play that he was involved in.

Edge rushers: Elvis Dumervil, Ravens (-3.2) and Jerry Hughes, Bills (-3.1)

Dumervil rushed the passer 34 times and recorded just two hurries, both of which were cleanup plays. He was no more effective in the run game, failing to get a single stop. Hughes rushed 29 times and had just one hurry, and it was a very late pressure. He also had no run stops, which isn’t a great number of them to have.

Linebackers: C.J. Mosley, Ravens (-4.8) and Manti Te’o, Chargers (-4.8)

Mosley’s grade comes almost entirely from his poor run defense. He had nine total tackles on the day, but only three of them were stops, and those were all in the passing game. Against the run he was just unable to get involved in anything early on in plays, which led to his poor grade. Te’o struggled in coverage, as all six targets he saw were completed for 58 yards. He also missed two tackles on the day, and finished with a poor run defense grade as well.

Cornerbacks: Justin Bethel, Cardinals (-2.8) and Brandon Browner, Saints (-2.7)

Bethel was targeted a ridiculous 14 times, allowing seven receptions for 75 yards. He had a pass defense, but also missed a tackle. He gave up multiple first downs, and also took a defensive holding penalty and a pass interference penalty. Most of the seven incompletions his way were the result of QB misses and not good coverage. Browner made this list despite, get this, taking no penalties (!!). However, he did allow 6-of-7 targets he saw to be completed for an insane 177 yards and two touchdowns. He also missed a tackle.

Safeties: Jaquiski Tartt, 49ers (-3.3) and Michae Thomas, Dolphins (-2.4)

Tartt’s spot on this team was due to his -3.8 coverage grade. He allowed three catches on three targets for 56 yards, all three of which went for first downs. He also missed three tackles in coverage, which is not good. Thomas was slightly below average in pass coverage, but it was his poor run defense and three missed tackles that really put him here.

Kicker: Travis Coons, Browns

Coons makes it here because his solid kicking (2-3, only miss was a blocked field goal) did not make up for his bad kickoff game, where he averaged just 63 yards per kick and forced zero touchbacks.

Punter: Brad Wing, Giants

Wing averaged just 40.2 yards per punt last night, and landed only two of six inside the twenty. When your best hangtime is just 4.60 seconds, it probably wasn’t a great punting day.

Returner: Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers

Rainey had two punt returns, both of which he muffed.


| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

  • Andy Mays

    Travis Coons deserves the blame for the blocked field goal. He has to low-drive longer attempts simply because he lacks the leg to lift the ball over the defensive line.

  • JonPW

    The Ertz poor grade is perplexing. He’s downgraded because of yards after catch? I can understand the two drops and the fumble hurting his score but 13 reception for 122 yards is still a huge day.

    Some of the offensive metrics for PPF are hard to follow.

    For example, Robbie Gould gets a +1.1 for hitting 4/4 with 1 being over 50 yards.
    Blair Walsh receives a +0.9 for hitting 5/5 with 2 over 50 yards.

    Also, AP is the rushing leader this season averaging a solid 4.6 ypc. While I understand his receiving and blocking skills are not great, it seems bizarre that PPF would emphasize that enough to make him only the 33rd ranked back.

    • bigtrip

      Yep Ertz caught more balls than any TE this week but he was the worse, while some guys played nearly every play and didn’t do squat. No need trying to figure this stuff out.

      • JonPW

        Kind of like last week when Bridgewater threw for 231 yards with 4 TDs and 0 Interceptions with a 154 passer rating and PFF only scored him a +2.6 because most of his passes where under 10 yards. If the defense is giving you the high percentage throws underneath then you’re going to take them. Penalizing a QB for that seems bizarre.

    • Devin

      Walsh missed a PAT

      • JonPW

        He did, but I don’t believe they consider that in their formula as it’s not listed on their stat sheet.

        Also, Walsh received a terrible -6.1 for kickoffs even though the opposing teams average starting position was the 22.6 yard line. I think he received a bad grade because they kicked off 11 times and just had 3 touchbacks. Josh Brown for the Giants kicked off 3 times excluding the onside and had 0 touchbacks.

        The lack of touchbacks was clearly due to the weather. It appears PFF’s metrics cumulatively penalized Walsh for kicking off many times in cold weather where the ball didn’t travel as far.

        While I like advanced metrics, it seems bizarre that a kicker hitting 5/5 FGs with 2 >50 yards in those conditions along with an average opponent starting field position at the 22 yard line should receive better than a horrible cumulative -5.2 score which indicates a horrible performance.

        • enai D

          Yeah that’s crazy, you could tell the weather was playing a serious factor in the kicking game for both teams, and yet Walsh went 5/5 with two extremely impressive 50+ yarders (one going against the wind, I believe). No way to justify giving him a -5.2 score, unless they included a critique of his warmup kicks or something else in that score- his play in the actual game obviously warranted a far better grade than that. PFF has really lost alot of whatever credibility they once had, for me at least.

    • 49ers fan24

      The grades are not the end all to be all of course.

      Just a guide to have some way of comparing players.

      I see weird grades all the time myself.

      • JonPW

        Right, I appreciate the grades and the concept behind the grades. I just think some of the metrics are set up to fail.

        For example last week:

        Teddy Bridgewater: 17/20, 231 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, passer rating of 154.
        PFF score of +2.6

        Matt Ryan: 22/35, 246 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, passer rating of 81.
        PFF score of +2.6

        Bridgewater didn’t receive a higher grade because most of his passes were under 10 yards. That seems like a poor way of grading a QB that’s taking what the defense is giving. It’s similar to penalizing Ertz for not having a lot of yards after the catch when he catches 13 balls for 122 yards.

        • @PFF_JohnKosko

          Everything has context to it. Teddy played well but did nothing extraordinary to get those yards and TDs. He took what the D gave him and threw it to wide open players within 10 yards of the LOS. All throws that every NFL QB should be able to make.

          • JonPW

            How does this account for the subjective decision making that goes into the QB process? For example, let’s say two receivers go out and one runs a wide open 5 yard route and the other runs a 15 yard intermediate route. The intermediate route is well covered but a good throw leads to a 15 yard gain with no YAC. The wide open route is higher percentage and with the receiver wide open leads to 10 YAC. Both decisions lead to 15 yard gains with the shorter, higher percentage route being the easier throw. Is the QB that threw to the 15 yard lower percentage route rewarded more because the throw was more difficult? From my understanding that’s how PFF would grade because the 5 yard route is one every NFL QB should make although I question if it’s the better decision making.

          • Richard

            A QB should be rewarded more for making more difficult throws. That isn’t the problem with PFF’s grading. The problem with their grading system is that the wide open short throw doesn’t earn much of anything (if anything) above a 0 grade. There is value in completing short passes to open receivers and they should update their system to reflect that. Not all QB’s read the defense well enough to get those short completions, especially on crucial downs and they end up making risky throws that ruin scoring opportunities. For that reason, there has to be some reward for short completions.


        • 49ers fan24

          I agree. What I hate most is when I see people and/or writers use Pro Football focus stats to form their whole argument.

          It’s way too flawed for that.

          • brophyfootball

            THIS +

            The grading metric is flawed. They are using an incredibly simplistic and subjective formula then multiplying it among several graders. The graders aren’t anything more than just regular sports fans watching film.

            Using multiple graders for a composite score seems like it would provide consistent scores to avoid bias. This just gives the impression of there being high quality QAing going on. They are doing QA using a flawed interpretation system.

            A real scoring system is cut-and-dry and has no room for subjectivity. The player either did or he didn’t. Did the player align correctly? Did the player step correctly based on assignment? Did the player use proper technique? Did the player complete the frontside/backside action? Did the player use poor/great effort?

            A viable grading system would produce efficiency ratings but also be delineated into what the player does well and where their deficiencies are at.

          • 49ers fan24


            It doesn’t take into account if you are winning in a blowout and just playing prevent defense to keep from giving up a easy score, etc.

            The helps offensive stats become inflated, defensive stats deflated.

            It’s gives teams a certain overall rating, but doesn’t account for a late season Quarterback or player change.

            Lots of flaws, people should stop using it as a “sports Bible.”

    • Tim Edell

      Walsh missed an extra point.. Not real hard to figure out!

      • JonPW

        XPs aren’t listed within their database.

        Walsh received a -5.2 total score which indicates a horrible performance and he wins special teams player of the week.

  • John Bokilo

    I would have expected Cooper, a WR at the Eagles, to be included. May be he is not able to catch anything an, therefore, no statistics for him. What a great pretended masquerading as a WR, and dumb coach Chip Kelly extended his contracts. God help us all.

  • Mike

    Umm did you guys watch the Packers game? No one on that line was the worst? How about Aaron Rodgers? 3 fumbles (2 scoop and scores) and a pick. Quickly losing all credibility with these bogus ratings.

    • enai D

      PFF still has credibility to lose?

  • zinn21 zinn21

    This makes no sense. You blame part of Tarrt’s bad grade on poor run defense yet you gave plus grades for all three front line defenders with Ian Williams getting a best of the day nod.. Something is wrong with your analysis..

    • PFF_Bryson

      Tartt’s grade was entirely due to his poor play in pass coverage, he graded positively against the run. Michael Thomas was the safety who struggled in the run game

      • zinn21 zinn21

        Yeah but did you read PFF analysis? They blamed part of his poor play on poor run defense yet graded the three front defenders all plus.. How do you perform at a plus level when your are blamed for problems on the back end?

    • roppert

      What part of “Tartt’s spot on this team was due to his -3.8 coverage grade”, did you not understand?

  • crosseyedlemon

    So where are all those Manziel backers who came out after the Frisco game and said Johnny would finish strong and make it unnecessary for the Browns to go after Goff in the draft?

    • Jay V Of Considerable Influenc

      Goff has been universally passed by Lynch by nearly every scout and draft analyst.

    • bigtrip

      He did have over a 100 yards rushing and his team had a chance to beat one of the hottest teams in the league on the road.

    • Brandon

      KC fan here. If you give Manzel time that kid will be great. Its because KC was without its two top pass rushers and we choose rather to contain(tho we still couldn’t stop Manzel’s quickness) and drop back into coverage. I was impressed with him yesterday. Really your coach should be to blame. If he would of kicked a field goal instead of going for it on fourth and goal you could of won. Because you got the ball back and manzel took them right back down there. Arrowhead is a tough place to play believe me.

  • Boyd Fink

    Why even list Browner? This list should be named after him!

    • Scott Kohler

      He actually isn’t on this list often.

      • Boyd Fink

        As a big Saints fan, that disappoints me. I don’t know PFF’s grading system, but I can’t remember the last time I watched a game without cursing his name.

  • TJ Smith

    Tough to call Zach Ertz the worse TE in the league this week when most TE aren’t good enough to get those opportunities.

  • enai D

    I’m kind of surprised the Giants only had, what, 3 players on this list? They didn’t even look interested in playing last night, much less winning.

  • Punting_Critic

    I think the evaluation for punting has to take into account the weather. As a lifelong soccer player, I know that the temperature of the ball has a huge affect on the distance it will go. With the NYG/MIN game being as cold as it was, the ball would naturally go further. PFF should catalog average punt distance as a function of game temperature and the use the standard deviation away from that function to grade punting, rather than raw data.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Unfortunately using weather as a metric opens up a huge can of worms. Kickers that don’t have the benefit of playing in a climate controlled dome will want the same consideration your suggesting punters get and from there it will snowball out of control as QBs faced with windy or rainy conditions will be looking for a favorable adjustment.

    • Edgar George Walcott

      I read what you are saying loud and clear but what bothers me is why didnt the weather affect the other punter?

      • crosseyedlemon

        I think Ed might be onto a “Puntergate” conspiracy here….let’s get Roger Goodell to check the air pressure on those balls.

      • NAJ

        It did affect Locke, he was absolutely terrible yet again. He had 2 punts land inside the 10 literally because the ball luckily rolled 10+ yards. Locke underhit many punts